It has been called one of the greatest cars of all time – the Jeep Cherokee.  Imagine that.  A basic, little SUV is considered one of the greatest cars ever.  That is how much of an impact the Cherokee left on us.  Production ceased in 2001 after a 17-year run.  Jeep has introduced some vehicles since then that has questioned their brand and image.  After a 12-year nap, the Cherokee is being resurrected.  Will it live up to the standards of loyal Jeep enthusiasts?

Lets start out with a brief history lesson:  The Cherokee was introduced in 1984 and axed in 2001.  It was replaced by the Liberty, which was killed off this year and will be replaced by the new Cherokee this fall as a 2014 model.  The Liberty is still offered in some countries but is badged as the Cherokee.  Along with the Smashing Pumpkins, Coolio, 2Pac, and Alanis Morrisette, the Cherokee reached its height in the 1990s and was undoubtedly the most iconic SUV of the decade.

The 1990s are unfortunately long gone.  We could never have thought back then that someday the Cherokee will be reborn as an aerodynamic crossover that has a 9-speed automatic transmission and gets 31 miles to the gallon on the highway.  31 MPG in a Cherokee?!  You heard me right.  But what will diehard Jeep fanatics really think of this new Cherokee?  We are going to take a look here:

The new 2014 Cherokee has four models to choose from: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited.  Pricing starts at around $23,000 and goes up to almost $40,000.  Initial looks will make any Jeep guy (including myself) cringe, but honestly, it grew on me.  I’m practical and think SUVs should be used the right way.  I get pissed when I see a Range Rover on 22-inch rims.  Useless.  I wasn’t all that impressed with this new Cherokee.  Where is the classic boxy styling?  Square headlights?  Manual transmission? Infamous 4.0???  Instead we get a bubbly looking crossover with the option of a 2.4L inline 4 or a 3.2L V6.  Got my hopes up for a 4.0 revitalization.

I’m not going to waste my time talking about the Sport, Latitude, or Limited.  Lets take a look at the Trailhawk.  My thoughts on the new Cherokee changed as soon as I saw the Trailhawk.  This model is outfitted for the outdoors and off-roading.  Granted, it’s no Wrangler Rubicon, but it is much improved over the other “Small Useless Vehicles” and crossovers Jeep offers.  The Trailhawk starts at about $29,500 and is around $40,000 when fully loaded with all the bells and whistles.  What sets the Trailhawk apart from the other Cherokees?  Here’s what is included:

-Active Drive Lock 4×4 System

-Locking rear axle (keeps both tires spinning at the same speed allowing for better traction)

-1 inch lift (I know, not huge by any means but still better than nothing)

-Off road suspension

-Skid plates

-17 inch offroad aluminum wheels

-All terrain tires

-Tow hooks

These options are all standard on the Trailhawk, but the price spikes once you start to add the navigation system, panoramic roof, etc.  It’s tough to actually give the Cherokee a grade or actual review because it isn’t out yet.  It should be in dealerships this fall.  I am very anxious to go check it out  and hope Jeep can reinvent its “crossover” class by bringing the Cherokee back to life.

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